Sundram: Performance will bring results at Suzuki Cup
Sundram insists poor run of results will end if Lions step up to the plate
The results have not been easy reading for interim national coach V Sundramoorthy since he took over the Lions in end-May.
The Lions have won only twice in seven matches under the former national striker - a 1-0 international 'A' friendly win over Myanmar in June and a 2-0 victory over university side Japan Soccer College the following month.
Except a 3-1 defeat by world No. 126 Bahrain in their last match, the Singapore team, ranked 155th in the world, did not have all their best players available due to club commitments, as well as Sundram's desire to try out new players and formations.
Even with the Suzuki Cup just seven weeks away, Sundram prefers to focus on the team's performance, rather than being obsessed with beating traditional rivals Malaysia in the Causway Challenge at the National Stadium on Friday to end a three-match losing run.
"Results must come in the Suzuki Cup, that's the most important platform," said the 50-year-old, after the team's training session at Geylang Field yesterday.
"As for the build-up matches, against Malaysia and Hong Kong (on Oct 11), performance is key.
"When you perform well, the results will come. You can be unlucky but, if you keep playing well, you can turn things around."
Vice-captain Hariss Harun, 25, feels that it's important for the team to peak at the right time during the Suzuki Cup but, first, the Lions must deliver a good result against Malaysia on Friday to boost the team morale.
The Johor Darul Ta'zim midfielder said: "We are very close to the Suzuki Cup, and it's important to get some good results for our confidence and morale.
"And what a good way it would be to boost our confidence if we can get a result against our traditional rivals."
Singapore have been handed a tough draw for the biennial regional football tournament, as they face Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia in Group A.
The Philippines and Thailand are 125th and 135th in the world respectively, while the Indonesians are 181st.
Hariss believes that the Lions can be a greater power than just the sum of the individual players.
Geylang International's Shawal Anuar. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES
"We have quality players; it may not be the best, man for man, compared to some of the best teams in the region but, as a team, in terms of tactical discipline and teamwork, we are one of the best," he said.
"If we can put all these pieces of the puzzle together... and eliminate those lapses of concentration, I think we will be a very strong team."
A strong performance against Malaysia will also help the players cement their spots in the Suzuki Cup team, too.
Sundram said yesterday that the door is always open to anyone who catches his eye.
Singling out Home United's Irfan Fandi and Geylang International's Shawal Anuar, he said: "We have a national squad of 40 players, but we have faith in not just the 40, but all the players in the S.League.
"There's always a chance, and we will look at all the players in the league."
Mustafic: I can still contribute to Lions
TNP PHOTO: LIM SAY HENG
He is a two-time AFF Suzuki Cup winner and represented the Republic 79 times.
Yesterday, Mustafic Fahrudin was just happy to be wearing the white and grey national team training kit again.
The 35-year-old defensive midfielder, who was among a clutch of senior players overlooked by Bernd Stange during the German's reign from 2013 to earlier this year, attended his first Lions training session since he lifted the Suzuki Cup in 2012.
"It feels very good to be back in the national team," said Mustafic (above), ahead of the team's 90-minute session at the Geylang Field.
"I have had a lot of good memories with the team and it is really an honour for me to wear this jersey again."
The New Paper first reported in August that interim national coach V Sundramoorthy was considering calling up the Serbia-born player, affectionately known as Farra.
In his heyday, the Tampines Rovers captain was a fearsome defensive midfielder, who also had a knack for taking penalties.
While he acknowledged that age has caught up on him, and there are younger players hungry for a spot in the national team, he believes that he can still contribute to the Lions' cause.
"I have worked with Sundram for 18 months (at Tampines Rovers) and, before I got called up, he spoke to me," Mustafic said.
"He knows me well and I am very happy that he thinks I can still contribute to the team.
"I am not young any more, so I need to work even harder to stay in the squad."
Former Tampines coach Sundram says the midfielder's influence extends beyond just his on-pitch performance.
Sundram said: "He has the winning mentality, the character in the dressing room, and he gets the players focused on getting the job done.
"On the pitch, you can count on him to give nothing less than his 100 per cent.
"When we are down, he will be fighting and, if we are up, he will keep it (the momentum) going for the team.
"He brings steel to the team." - LIM SAY HENG